[September 15, 2020] If we were to look at one example of violence incited by leaders, the most notorious in the past century is Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, carried out on 9-10 November 1938 by the paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party.1 The pretext for the attacks was the assassination of a German diplomat in Paris. Still, it was the German Nazi Party leadership that fueled the fires of destruction throughout Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland that encouraged the violence.
Today, in many major cities across the United States and parts of Europe, violence has spread, involving many political leaders advocating for more destruction. Rioting, looting, arson, murder, and other attacks on persons have occurred mostly in larger cities where mayors have “given space” to those who are prone to use violence as a tool for a variety of ends, like social justice, police brutality, systematic racism, etc.
The city of Portland, Oregon, is one of many like cities that have seen violence flare since they began in May. Unlike many news outlets that give the impression that the violence is “spontaneous”2 and these are really “peaceful protests,”3,4 nothing could be further from the truth. There is nothing spontaneous about it and what makes these riots similar to Kristallnacht in terms of an identifiable target (Jews versus Police), method (destruction of stores and private-public property), and ideology (socialist anarchy).
There are other similarities. The violence in Portland and on Kristallnacht was blamed on a straw man. U.S. Senators Merkely and Wyden blamed President Trump for the violence, while the Nazis blamed the Jews. But, such violence is never rooted in a single cause or event. Portland anarchists, like the Nazis, have a history of violence amid years of destructive actions against the city and its residents. Portland’s leaders, like past Nazi leaders, did nothing consequential to slow the spread of violence and yet encourage it through inaction, acquiescence, and cheerleading.
The city of Portland and Kristallnacht are just two examples. There are many evil incidents of anti-Semitism in Europe and socialist-inspired anarchy in America, all having a history that is far more complex and common than one might think. The solution, therefore, is also complex and challenging, otherwise, we would see none of it. The counter argument is that logic does not apply, that good for all does not apply, and that appeasement works – I disagree. We have the deaths of millions to prove it.
- The Sturmabteilung, literally Storm Detachment, played a significant role in Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in the 1920s and a930s. See more on its functions and history here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturmabteilung
Note: This article is part of a long-running series on leader trends. I recommend the reader use the search feature for hunting them down on my website.